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Stratum plus. 2013. №5

S. A. Kozlov (Tyumen, Russia)

Leo the Deacon and Scylitzas’ Narratives about the Battle of Svyatoslav near Dorostolon (971): a Fragment of the Lost Byzantine Epic?




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Pages: 151-160


The paper examines parallel accounts by Leo the Deacon and John Scylitzas about the battle between the Emperor John Tzimisces and knyaz Svyatoslav Igorevich near Dorostolon (modern Silistra, Bulgaria) in 971. Analysis of narration and motifs of these and other parallel stories by Leo and Scylitzas about the Balkan campaign of Svyatoslav demonstrated their contensive and structural similarity with motifs of the epic tradition of the medieval Greek-speaking population of the Balkans, e. g., the heroic poems about Digenis Acrites and son of Andronicus. It has been suggested that Leo and Scylitzas in their battle scenes used as a model the Acritic songs or novels that have been very popular in Byzantium and sometimes used by the court chroniclers to depict the heroic portraits of any ruling emperors and nobles and their exploits in the struggles against foreigners. The variability of parallel episodes by Leo and Scylitzas celebrated the same heroes and events, suggests the existence in the Byzantine folklore of a cycle of heroic songs about the Balkan campaigns of Svyatoslav that are reflected in the Byzantine historiography as the “Rus’” war of Tzimisces.


Keywords: Byzantium, Old Rus’, Svyatoslav, Byzantine chronicles, Leo the Deacon, John Scylitzas, Byzantine epic, Digenis Acrites


Information about author:

Sergei Kozlov
(Tyumen, Russia). Candidate of Historical Sciences. Institute for History and Political Sciences at Tyumen State University, Lenin St., 23, Tyumen, 625003, Russia
E-mail: [email protected]

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